New tactics needed to manage global disasters

Damage from the 2011 Japan Earthquake. Terrorist attacks, tsunamis, global financial crises – how societies cope with these disasters in the age of globalisation is the focus of a conference being held at the University of South Australia next week.

Researchers and policymakers from around the world will meet in Adelaide for the ‘Mobile Cultures of Disaster’ conference to rethink how societies can manage disasters and recovery efforts on a global scale.

Co-convenor of the conference and UniSA Dean of External Engagement, Professor Anthony Elliott says the dangers disasters pose for societies in the 21st century – in an environment more connected and mobile than ever before – are unparalleled.  

“The disasters we face today are radically different in scope, intensity and consequence than those faced in previous generations,” he says.

“In a mobile and globalised world, we can no longer think disasters in far off places will be contained to national or regional boundaries – the effects of disasters can and do circulate around the globe. 

“Advances in technology and science in everything from artificial intelligence to nanotechnology have also created new risks and responsibilities.

“At the conference, we will explore the impact of disasters on peoples’ lives and how we can work together to mitigate the often enormous social disruptions disasters cause.”

The conference will host presentations from global leaders in disaster research, including several researchers from Japan, who will share insights into the impact and recovery efforts of one of the most catastrophic disasters of recent times, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Prof Elliott says it is the first time that so many researchers and practitioners from the around the globe have assembled in Adelaide to discuss the global rise of disasters and the enormous societal stakes of disaster management.

“I am delighted UniSA is hosting this conference and we look forward to welcoming researchers from around the world – principally Japan, but also Singapore, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Zealand and the United Kingdom,” he says.

“Australia is not immune to these disasters – we just need to look to the devastating floods and bushfires in the past decade. It is critical we engage with international disaster experts to learn more about the latest disaster relief management systems.”

‘Mobile Cultures of Disaster’ will take place from March 22 – March 24 at UniSA’s City West campus.

Organised by UniSA, with support from Kwansei Gakuin University, Rikkyo University, and the University of Tokyo in Japan, the conference is principally funded by the Japan Foundation Sydney and the UniSA Hawke Research Institute.

Contact for interview Professor Anthony Elliott office (08) 8302 1084 email

Media contact Michele Nardelli office (08) 8302 0966 mobile 0418 823 673 email  


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